The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Ag

May 24, 2014

Tour to showcase 6 gardens in Enid

ENID, Okla. — Garfield County Master Gardeners will conduct a tour of six select gardens in Enid 6:30-9 p.m. June 6 and 9 a.m. to noon June 7.

A $10 ticket can be purchased at any of the six garden sites, which will allow one to travel about to the gardens at their leisure and is good for both days. Master Gardeners will be at each location to address questions. The Garfield County Cooperative Extension Center, 316 E. Oxford, is the stop where participants can observe Oklahoma Proven selections in the garden and arboretum. Also, a plant sale and boutique will be located at the Extension Center with the proceeds used to benefit the Ron Robinson Memorial Scholarship Fund for OSU Horticulture students.

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We all should consider environmentally friendly turf grass for the landscape.

Lawns are a permanent fixture in the United States with current estimates of nearly 50 million acres under grass. Lawns support entire industries of people involved in everything from seed production and landscape maintenance to push and rider mowers sale and service.

The old methods of lawn care, what we think lawns should look like and how they fit into our landscapes need to change and reflect the new paradigms of our times. We also should be aware of how lawns positively and negatively affect our lives and the health of the planet.

On the positive side:

• Lawns provide cooling to our urban and suburban areas to combat the effects of urban heat islands.

• Lawns absorb and filter our water as it moves from the sky into the aquifers and waterways.

• Lawns enhance the quality of our lives by providing soft, cool areas to play sports, fly kites, run our dogs and have picnics.

On the negative side:

• Lawns, when cared for using traditional methods, use large amounts of environmentally challenging chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides if not applied to label directions.

• Traditional lawn care is energy intensive and makes lawns a carbon negative part of our landscapes (more carbon is generated than is absorbed by the grass).

• Lawns can waste water when our water resources are being stretched and exhausted.

When considering a more sustainable and resilient lawn, first consider alternative grass varieties. We need to consider switching from high input grass varieties and blends to ones that:

• Use less water and fertilizer.

• Are deep rooted.

• Are dwarfs or slower growing and need less frequent mowing.

The use of native grass varieties will lower water needs of lawns. These include  blue grama grass and buffalo grass. There are dwarf turf-type buffalo grasses such as Legacy and Prestige, which have been developed but are limited in supply.

When high-water usage lawn grasses are removed, there is often considerable collateral damage with the loss of our urban/suburban tree canopy. The trees that have been planted into or on the edges of lawns often die from lack of water when lawn irrigation is curtailed.

A great deal of time and effort has been invested in growing trees that shade, cool and clean our environment, and when turf grasses are replaced trees experience stress.

Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service is implied.

Nelson is Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service ag educator for Garfield County.

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